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Feature: When bad films happen to good actors

It's happened so many times before. Prior to your favourite star hitting their zenith (or even during their peak for that matter), each one of them has that one disaster, that one blemish, that odd film they signed in the spur of the moment. Why? Was it out of sheer desperation, or the fact that they grossly overestimated the film's potential at the box office? Or was it simply that they trusted a director’s instincts and it was the directors that lost their way and goofed up badly?

Whatever the reason, in most cases as you can see below, it's happened more than once. So presented below are the blunders that otherwise usually reliable stars committed – turkeys that they aren’t proud of and chose to distance themselves from as much as possible. Note that this list doesn’t include actors who despite being talented, continue to star in mindless junk all in the name of box office returns. Yes Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor – I’m referring to you. But more the actors who genuinely got it wrong and have since tried their best to make amends.

Aamir Khan : Mann (1999), Mela (2000)

Aamir Khan & Twinkle Khanna in Mela

Yep. Believe it or not. The man often associated with only quality, meaningful and entertaining cinema delivered these two turkeys at the turn of the century.

Back in '99, Khan placed his faith in Indra Kumar, a director whom he had collaborated with before in Dil (1991), with Mann, a woeful rehash of An Affair To Remember (1957), where he starred with Manisha Koirala. The film had chartbusting music by Sanjeev Darshan (musician Shravan’s sons), and decent top line performances, but Kumar made a complete mess of the film stuffing it with over the top melodrama and lewd jokes. Luckily, Khan escaped virtually unscathed but Koirala’s career never quite recovered after the debacle of this film.

Khan can be forgiven for Mann, but I doubt any of his fans ever forgave him for a travesty called Mela. This rehash of Sholay (1975) saw Khan with younger brother Faisal and a screechy Twinkle Khanna and was directed by Dharmesh Darshan (of Raja Hindustani (1996) fame).

With lousy music, and awful performances (even Khan hammed his way through it), Mela till date remains both one of Khan’s WORST films and one of the worst films of the noughties. Khanna opted for marriage shortly after and Darshan directed a stray Dhadkan (2001) and Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya (2002) only to disappear into oblivion shortly after. Unsurprisingly younger brother Faisal was never seen in a film since either.

Amitabh Bachchan: Boom (2003)

Just a single line will do here.

Seriously Mr Bachchan. What were you thinking?

Akshay Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan Kareena Kapoor: Tashan (2008)

Granted that both Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor have appeared in some mindless junk that has done no justice to their stature – yes Kambakht Ishq (2009) is up there as one of the most distasteful films that either of them have ever done. But more than that tripe, I think it was Tashan, that burnt everyone associated with it.

Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar in Tashan

The hype around it was big. It was from the writer of the Dhoom series. Aditya Chopra was producing, Saif-Akshay were coming together after almost a decade and Anil Kapoor was featured as a bad ass villain for the first time. The cherry on the cake was Kapoor at her glamorous (but malnourished) best. Tashan surprisingly, turned out be one of biggest debacles of 2008. Its failure was attributed to a disagreement between distributors and Yash Raj Films, but I suspect that was just an excuse. Tashan was undoubtedly a terrible film, It had loads of style and a 'Tarantinoesque' theme to boot, but went horribly wrong in its execution. Till date it has the ‘honour’ of being one of the worst films to come out of the Yash Raj stable - yes on par with Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007). I expected so much better.

Hrithik Roshan: Yaadein (2001), Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (2003), Kites (2010)

Roshan has never believed in over exposure. More often than not, his films are of a decent standard and he has given even the lousiest film his best shot, but believe it or not he too has a hat-trick of blunders to his otherwise respectable career.

I remember the buzz that surrounded Yaadein. It starred the fresh ‘it’ pairing of Hrithik-Kareena, it was directed by ‘showman’ Subhash Ghai and had Jackie Shroff as Kapoor's father in a supporting role. Forget ‘yaadein’, or fond memories, the end result was nothing short of an insufferable, headache inducing nightmare. Roshan hammed, Kapoor sobbed and Shroff was the only thing worth watching here. And you know the film is a complete write-off when you have Roshan valiantly saving Kapoor from an obviously fake alligator on some remote island. Only one word to describe Yaadein. Torture.

Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor in Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon

Close on the heels of Yaadein came another colossal turkey from an otherwise respectable filmmaker. With Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon, Sooraj Barjatya tried to move away from his family values and ‘sanskar’ to give us a modern day version of a classic - Chitchor (1976). A computer generated parrot? An over expressive and pouting Kapoor? Roshan overacting to the point of no return? Check, check and check. Thanks but no thanks,

The third blunder from Roshan was in the form of his own home production – Kites. The film was marketed on every international platform, Brett Rattner directed the Hollywood version and there was even a rumoured romance between Spanish hottie Barbara Mori and her leading man - all in the name of publicity of course. You'd think nothing would go wrong what with the Roshan's giving it their all but alas. Apart from some fantastic dances and action sequences, this avoidable, soulless love story had nothing going for it and till date remains one of the biggest turkeys to come out of Filmkraft. 

Priyanka Chopra: Love Story 2050 (2008), Drona (2008)

2008 was the year that Chopra made a big mark, with as many as six releases in one year. She won a National Award for her turn as Meghna Mathur in Fashion and made a mark in her chic avatar as Neha Melwani in Dostana.

But she also had two big duds earlier that year, possibly two of the biggest box office flops in recent times - Drona and Love Story 2050.

Priyanka Chopra and Harman Baweja in Love Story 2050

She can be forgiven Drona to an extent. Because even though the film was utter garbage, she made the best of what she had and didn't get too much flak for her performance.

On the other hand, Love Story 2050? One word here. Eek. Harman Baweja never made it anywhere and the only thing one remembers form this futuristic love story is how bad it was and Chopra with red hair. Yes. You heard that right. Red. Her stylist should have been shot for this faux pas. 

Chopra has since been more careful with her career choices, but its unlikely that her fans will ever forgive her for these two duds. And rightly so.

Ranbir Kapoor: Saawariya (2007), Anjaana Anjaani (2010)

Of the current crop of actors, Ranbir Kapoor is right up there. Looks, charisma, and an untapped reservoir of talent – Raj Kapoor’s grandson seems to have it all, and that too in abundance.

Fireworks then were expected from his collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali – a respectable director in his own right, for his debut Saawariya, which was based on a Russian short story, White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The result unfortunately, was a soulless, morbid humdinger of a disaster, with Kapoor being its sole saving grace. Even a strong supporting cast (Salman Khan, Rani Mukerji) and decent music couldn't save Bhansali's dream venture. The fact that its release clashed with a Shah Rukh Khan juggernaut Om Shanti Om, didn't help matters either.

Kapoor bounced back from his disastrous debut, with Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), Wake Up Sid (2009), Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahaani (2009) and Raajneeti (2010), but it was Siddharth Anand’s rom com with Priyanka Chopra, Anjaana Anjaani (2010) that remains his biggest embarrassment till date.

Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra in Anjaana Anjaani

At face value the film had a lot going for it. Siddharth Anand and Ranbir Kapoor had already worked together on the moderately successful Bachna Ae Haseeno. Added to that, it was Ranbir-Priyanka’s first outing together, and Vishal Shekhar were in their element with a rocking soundtrack.

Unfortunately, Anjaana Anjaani made a mockery of suicide and couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be comedy or a melodrama. As a result, the final product turned out to be nothing but a prolonged headache. The performances too were pretty ho-hum. Kapoor seemed disinterested, Chopra hammed like never before and unsurprisingly Zayed Khan as the third angle wasn't up to much either. To sum up Anjaana Anjaani was a pretty looking film, with great music but little else. By far Kapoor’s biggest mistake in his relatively short career.

Shah Rukh Khan: Ra One (2011)

Credit where its due. Ra One was not completely unwatchable. The special effects were pretty impressive, and the idea behind it was clever.

Shah Rukh Khan in Ra One

Its just that SRK went to town with the films publicity and shoved the film down our throats so much that we expected nothing short of a landmark film. Blame it perhaps on Anubhav Sinha. Or SRK’s hammy turn as a Tamil geek (who thankfully dies half way through the film). Whatever the reason, despite covering its colossal budget, Ra One just proved that Hindi cinema hasn’t quite evolved to fully explore and exploit the sci fi genre and that we have a while to go before we can pull of something as ambitious as this convincingly.

Nice try though. And great music. Shame the final outcome was so close to shambolic. 

Obviously this list can go on. There are several runners up here which need to be mentioned. Madhuri Dixit in her heyday had some corkers (Rajkumar (1995) bleurgh) as did Sridevi (Chandramukhi, (1993) Chaand Ka Tukda (1994))). Heck even Vidya Balan had Heyy Baby (2007) but that wasn't half as bad as some of the duds mentioned above.

Every actor has had their share. But the ones above are the ones that come to mind in recent memory. They were god awful films and we as an audience deserved better. Sure there'll be many more in the years to come. Filmmakers, and money hungry stars will never learn. *Sigh*

Were there any key films that I missed? Holler away below.

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